Gambling has been considered an illegal form of recreation in Virginia for over a century now but things might soon change for casino buffs from the Old Dominion. The Pamunkey, one of the eleven federally recognized Native American tribes in the state, have rolled out a plan to bring high-limit gambling to Virginia residents.
The tribe has obtained four land plots after receiving the support of a wealthy and experienced investor with a background in Indian gambling. Three of these plots are adjoining and located in Richmond, Virginia’s state capital. The fourth land plot is situated in Norfolk, a waterfront town in the southeastern part of the state.
The Pamunkey’s plans are to open multi-million gambling resorts on these plots and provide high-stake casino gaming to Virginians. However, the tribe must first convince the state’s voters to approve their plans before they proceed with building the resorts according to their plans.
Over $1 Billion to Be Invested in the Richmond and Norfolk Casinos
The tribe recently revealed the specifics of their plan. If the voters approve the project, the tribe hopes to bring a $350-million gambling resort to the state capital Richmond and invest $700 million to build the casino in the port town of Norfolk. The waterfront city has already embraced the construction of the gaming venue.
The tribe’s chief Robert Gray explained the Pamunkey want to work toward boosting tourism in these areas, hoping to attract more visitors to the Old Dominion with their casinos. Also in the plan is to build a special center in one of the three Richmond parcels where future casino employees will undergo preparatory training.
Mr. Gray also said the tribe is looking to gain greater financial independence with the help of these casinos. The gambling revenue will facilitate health care, education, employment, and housing both for the tribe and the local community.
A spokesperson for the tribe insisted the Pamunkey would use the casinos to pave the way for improving things for their community. If the Richmond casino begins its operations, part of the revenue is to be invested into building either a health clinic or a grocery store, both of which are needed in this area.
Also needed are assisted living facilities for the local aging population. Both tribe and non-tribe seniors will be accepted in the living facilities, the spokesperson stressed. According to Ben “Nighthorse” Campbell, Senator of Colorado from 1993 to 2005, the Pamunkey could potentially generate significant revenue with this gambling enterprise.
Richmond Is the Perfect Place for the Construction of a High-Stakes Casino
The former Senator, who co-sponsored the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, also stressed that running a financially successful gambling business requires the venues to be located in proximity either to a major interstate highway or a metropolitan area.
Indian casino operators would otherwise make only “nickels and dimes” as is the case with the tribes who run gaming venues in the rural areas of Wyoming, North and South Dakota, and Montana, he said.
From this perspective, Richmond appears to be the perfect place for the construction of a high-stakes casino resort. Being one of the oldest cities in the United States, Richmond boasts a significant population that exceeds one million people. Also favorable is the fact the city is located only two hours away from Washington and sits conveniently on I-95, the longest highway on the US East Coast.
It appears the Pamunkey are not facing serious competition for the time being since no other parties have unveiled official intentions to compete with them for the right to open a gambling venue in the region.
With that in mind, it is rather likely that the tribal casino could hurt the business of the Colonial Downs Group, which operates a racetrack in Virginia’s New Kent County. The Group has not made an official announcement it plans on building a casino in this area, the Pamunkey spokesperson said.
Last year, the Virginia legislature approved a bill that authorizes gambling activities in five cities in the state, Richmond included. However, the bill must past in the General Assembly first. If this happens, a referendum will be held in November 2020, so Virginia’s voters will ultimately have the last word as to whether or not a gambling venue will finally arrive in Richmond.
According to a state-ordered review, prospective casinos in the Old Domain could yield significant net revenue of around $970 million and pour as much as $260 million in taxes in Virginia’s state coffers.